Law enforcement officers in McDuffie County and across the state are participating in Operation Zero Tolerance this holiday season. The campaign, which runs until midnight Monday, Jan. 2, is aimed at reducing the number of automobile crashes and related injuries and deaths due to impaired drivers.
"Yes, we're not very tolerant around here," SFC Mark Bentley of the Georgia State Patrol Thomson Post said with a laugh.
Traffic streams along Washington Road. Law enforcement officials plan to be out in force for New Years.
Sgt. Bentley said the Thomson Post of Georgia State Patrol usually increases the number of officers on patrol during the holidays, and this season will be no different. In addition to officers on patrol, the department will be conducting road checkpoints where they will check licenses, seat belts and insurance coverage; and look for stolen vehicles and impaired drivers.
"For us, it's an emphasis during this time," Sgt. Bentley said. "Of course we'll watch for DUI drivers - that's the big issue. We'll watch for speeding, and for sure the seat belts, because those wrecks are dangerous."
According to a report from the Georgia Department of Public Safety, last year during the Christmas holiday period, 11 fatalities, 1,250 crashes, and 586 injuries were recorded on Georgia roads. The Christmas holiday period runs from 6 p.m. Dec. 23 until midnight Dec. 26.
For the New Years holiday period, 13 fatalities, 1,277 crashes, and 650 injuries were recorded last year on Georgia roads. The New Years holiday period runs from 6 p.m. Dec. 30 until midnight Jan. 2.
The highest number of deaths during Christmas was 36, recorded in 1971, and the lowest was five, recorded in 1982 and 2002. For New Years, the highest number of deaths recorded was 23 in 1981 and 1987, and the lowest was three in 1947 and 1958.
"We do know that people celebrate more and have more parties during the holidays, so we know there will be more DUI drivers on the road," Sgt. Bentley said.
The Department of Public Safety advises people to plan holiday activities carefully, choose a sober designated driver, don't drink if you plan to drive, wear a seatbelt, and make sure children are properly restrained.
To report an impaired driver, Sgt. Bentley said call *GSP from a cellular phone, the county dispatch at 911 or the Georgia State Patrol at 595-2622.